Tue 13 May, 2014 07:28 pm
DC gun carry rights case blocked in court
By Emily Miller
Published May 09, 2014
Washington, D.C. is the only place in the country
where no one is allowed to legally carry a gun outside the home.
District residents are trying to challenge the law in court, but the
justice system has denied them due process. The almost five-year
delay in Palmer v. District of Columbia is so extreme that some
suspect political games.
In August 2009, Tom Palmer and three other D.C. residents filed
a lawsuit in U.S. District Court that said the total ban on carrying
firearms -- open or concealed -- violated their Second Amendment rights.
On Tuesday, Alan Gura, the attorney for the Palmer case, filed a
second writ of mandamus with the U.S. Court of Appeals asking it
to force the lower court to issue a decision.
He will not speculate on the reason for the long wait, but says
this is not normal.
"Delays of this nature are very uncommon -- especially when you have
a case where people are claiming that their fundamental civil rights
are being violated," the attorney said in an interview with Fox 5 on Friday.
Gura was also Dick Heller’s attorney in the 2008 landmark Supreme Court
case that overturned the District’s 30-year total ban on handguns.
After the Heller decision, D.C. technically abided by that ruling
by establishing a complicated firearms registration system.
In addition, the city passed a law in 2009 that prohibited open and
concealed carry of firearms, which prompted the Palmer lawsuit.
"The ban is obviously unconstitutional. I don’t think there's any doubt
of that,” said Gura, who represents the Second Amendment Foundation.
"People have a right to carry a handgun for self defense, which Heller confirmed."
The Palmer case has been in legal limbo several times.
Judge Henry Kennedy was the first judge assigned to the case.
He heard oral argument in Jan. 2010 but retired without issuing a ruling.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts intervened in July 2011
and reassigned the case to Judge Frederick Scullin of New York.
Even then, Scullin took over a year to rehear arguments. After the
judge heard from both sides in Oct. 2012, he promised that he would
make a decision “within a short period of time.”
While a “short period of time” can be interpreted to mean different
things, a 20-month delay in issuing a district court decision is so rare
that many find it suspicious.
This is the second time that Gura has asked the appeals court to intervene.
After a year of waiting for Scullin to issue his ruling, the lawyer filed
a writ of mandamus to the appeals court. In Dec. 2013, the court
denied the request, saying that the delay was not “egregious or
unreasonable.” But Scullin is still radio silent.
Fed up, Gura filed the second writ in which he wrote that the
persistent delay is “unconscionable” and “fundamentally unfair.”
(Disclosure: In the writ, Gura quoted from a column I wrote in
The Washington Times titled “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied.”)
In contrast, Illinois, the last state that denied carry rights, went from
being challenged in district court in May 2011 to giving out concealed
carry licenses in just two years. That even includes the six months
that the legislature took to write the new laws.
Both sides in the Palmer case agree that no matter who wins at the
district level, the case will be appealed, and likely ultimately the
Supreme Court will be asked to hear it.
George Lyon is one of the four other plaintiffs in the Palmer case.
He has legally-registered guns in his D.C. home, but he can’t use them
for self-defense past his front door.
“I would like to be able to make a decision when and where to have
the tools to protect myself,” explained Lyon. “I may not carry a gun
everywhere I go in the District of Columbia, but I may carry a gun late
at night when I walk my dog or any other time I feel it’s necessary for
While Lyon and his fellow plaintiffs in Palmer say they have the right
to bear arms, D.C. says it can outlaw gun carry because it is unique as
the seat of the federal government.
The District’s political leaders and government attorneys argue that
allowing people to legally have guns puts at risk the life of the president,
members of Congress and Supreme Court justices -- even though all
those people have armed security. They also say that the carry ban
prevents crime and increases public safety.
Whether you are for or against gun control laws, there is no controversy
that Americans have the right to due process in the courts.
Emily Miller is the chief investigative reporter for Fox 5 D.C.
She is also the author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery/2013).
Gun control in America began in the early 18OOs, in response to
some bloody slave rebellions. The statutes were very specific
in being aimed at the black race.
Now, I suspect that the courts in Washington, D.C. are too nervous
in the service at the prospect of having the residents of D.C.
being lawfully armed. In my opinion, this delay is race-driven.
Fed up, Gura filed the second writ in which he wrote that the persistent delay is “unconscionable” and “fundamentally unfair.”
Jeb will be elected in 2016. Things will go more smoothly after some of the more Left-leaning members of the Supreme Court retire and he picks their replacements.
I think you and Oralboy are fukin idiots.
I don t think much of u, either.
Thanks! I was trying to stir up trouble. (Just kidding!